When Barrack Obama became the first black American president, he created history. It was the culmination of the hard work and struggle of many through the civil rights movement and beyond. One of the pivotal figures in black political history was Maynard Jackson. When he was elected Mayor of Atlanta in 1973 he became the African-American mayor of a major southern city. Using archive footage and through the memories of his family and friends, Samuel D. Pollard’s documentary tells his story.
Raised in the segregated Confederate South, Maynard Jackson had politics in his blood. His grandfather was the famous civil rights leader John Wesley Dobbs. A brilliant student, Maynard graduated from Morehouse College at the age of eighteen. In 1968, at the age of thirty, he ran for the Georgia US Senate. Despite being soundly defeated, it was his launchpad for his political career. He went on to serve three terms as Mayor of Atlanta and help transform it into a powerful cultural and economic hub.
The one huge advantage Maynard has over its peers is Pollard’s ability to tell the story through close friends and family. This also grants him access to a fantastic wealth of private archive footage. It also doesn’t hurt to have the likes of Bill Clinton and Al Sharpton involved. The documentary itself doesn’t really break any new ground and tends to dwell too much on sentimentality. However, Maynard is a fascinating glimpse into the life of a man who made history and paved the way for others to succeed.
Maynard is screening at the Atlanta Plaza Theatre now. It will be released by Virgil Films on iTunes and digital platforms on July 3 in the US.